Paul Andrews

Cygolite Trion 600 reviewed by someone who paid for one

In Equipment reviews, Mountain Biking on November 25, 2009 at 8:26 pm

REVIEW POLICY link: In a nutshell, everything we review we have paid for, just like you. Since it’s our money, we don’t review stuff we wouldn’t pay for, which means we’ve done a bit of shopping for you. That doesn’t mean we’re anything like the final say in product ratings, of course. But it does mean you can believe what you read here as the honest truth, since we have no reason, financial or otherwise, to spin our reviews. Our full policy here.

Compare the fog lamps

Cygolite vs. Toyota Prius headlamps

I’ve gone through a lot of bike lights over the years, including mounting an actual car headlamp on my bars, powered by a true brick, a foot-long, 5-lb. lead-acid battery with the incredible output of 2.5 hours shine time. This was back in the late 1970s when I was commuting 20 miles to work each way, returning at midnight (swing shift). It was heavy and inconvenient, but cars got out of the way!

Now I’ve got a 3-LED Cygolite Trion 600 (referring to lumens) that is not only brighter than anything I’ve seen on a bike, but it runs longer — I’m getting 5 hours-plus to a charge; it’s rated 2.5 to 12 hours, depending on setting — and here’s the kicker: No wires. It’s completely self-contained, you can mount it on your helmet or your bars or, as I often do, just carry it around as a flashlight. I mean, the thing weighs all of 8.5 ounces. As light as it is, it takes a beating. You can’t use a bike light regularly without dropping it from time to time. Mine’s even rolled down some stairs. The metal collar and hard plastic case don’t even shown a nick yet.

It has so many different settings, including several flash modes, I’m still not sure I’ve tried them all (the specs list 8 altogether). I do like the variable interval flash (SOS mode) for commuter/road use where I can see where I’m going fine, but want to make sure I’m seen. Charge time is quick, three to four hours. There’s a very nice 5-dot battery life indicator on top of the unit, clearly visible at all times.

The light’s throw, or beam, is just right by my book. Throw is a personal preference thing, and too wide a field is just as frustrating as too little. You want a light to illuminate the stuff that’s important; too much light can rob depth of field, and put too much reflection back in your eyes.

Some considerations: It’s not cheap. Mine set me back $350. But for the use I get out of it, and figuring my life to be worth at least, say, $400, I haven’t felt a twinge of buyer’s remorse.

It lacks a helmet mount. It would be easy to jerryrig one using the quick-release handlebar mount, but I’m not a big helmet light fan anyway. The best system is a handlebar light and helmet light used to complement one another. But I get by fine with this thing mounted on the bars. (Helmet light phreaks say half a pound is a bit heavy for a light. It wouldn’t bother me.)

I keep thinking I’m going to snap off the tiny rubber covers for the auxiliary battery (that boosts run time to something like a claimed 6 hours) and recharger inputs. So far it hasn’t happened.

There are a lot of lights out there, but the wireless capability, featherweight heft and length of charge sold me on the Cygolight. I’ve had mine almost a year and so far no complaints.

    For further reading

Good discussion on MTBR.com forum, with comparative photos

MTBR “shootout” with several other lights, but not the Cygolite. See comments queue.

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  1. Lights have come a *long* way. I’m a big believer in visibility; I mounted motorcycle lights & 6V battery when I had a long commute back before the modern LED era :-)

    I like the self contained feature and I always appreciate blinky & steady modes (though 8 modes might be overkill). On this light I’d be interested in knowing the power draw and number of LEDs. Agree w/ you about helmet mounts — for high power lights I think they can actually increase danger: I’ve been blinded when Mr Biker with HID helmet light looks directly at me. Bastard.

    Paul, you’ve been around so I’m certain you’re not so naive to think that buying a product is any guarantee you won’t bias the “honest truth.” When you invest something into politics, a project, a person, or a bike light, you’ll be biased. I’m sure you’ve seen some interesting rationalizations when somebody puts money, time or themselves into stuff.

    • Agreed…that’s why Lexus and Mercedes owners always top the “most satisfied” lists of car owners. But just because I buy and like a product doesn’t mean I can’t see its flaws, as my reviews of the Thule T2 bike rack (which I still think deserves a recall) shows. And I always try to link to other reviews/comments, whose potential bias I have no control over, when I review something. Hey Richard, maybe we should become the Ebert & Roeper of bike reviews!

  2. [...] Andrews reviews Cyclolite Trion 600, and as he says..he even paid for them to [...]

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